A one-time All-Star and the franchise’s all-time leader in assists, Jameer Nelson was perhaps underappreciated during his time with the Orlando Magic.
Down the stretch of games however, it wasn’t uncommon for the little guy to come up big. That’s what he did on this day 15 years ago.
Nelson’s trey with less than two seconds remaining was the difference as the Magic came up with a big road win over the Sacramento Kings, 92-89.
Orlando had lost 11 straight at Arco Arena as it arrived on Dec. 4, 2006. The Magic however, were red hot and off to a stellar 13-5 start.
Throughout the contest, neither team led by more than eight points. The Kings took a 71-69 lead into the final quarter. A 7-1 run would push the Magic lead to six late, but Sacramento responded with six straight points to set the stage for Nelson.
Trailing 89-83, Sacramento used two free throws and a jumper from center Brad Miller and a jump-shot from Mike Bibby to draw even with 25 seconds left. The Magic didn’t have the final shot, but used all of the shot clock.
Matched up with Bibby, Nelson was the only player to touch it on the Magic’s final possession. Nelson initially drove right. As Bibby went under a screen, Nelson popped toward the top of the arc and buried the open three-point shot with just 1.7 seconds remaining.
Bibby would get a chance to answer on the other end, but his tying attempt was no good. For the first time in more than a decade, Orlando had left California’s capital city victorious.
For the night, it was center Dwight Howard who powered the Magic. Howard led the Magic with 18 points and a game-high 16 rebounds. Nelson and Hedo Turkoglu each tallied 14 points in the victory. Carlos Arroyo and Grant Hill added 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Bibby paced Sacramento with a game-high 19 points. Kevin Martin and John Salmons tallied 16 points apiece in the loss while Miller added 14 off the bench. Nelson and Bibby led their respective teams with seven assists each.
At 14-5, the Magic were riding high, but dropped nine of their next 12 games. The nine games over .500 would be the highest that Orlando would be during a 40-42 season. It got there, thanks to Nelson’s heroics that came on this day 15 years ago.